International Rivers Day celebrated at Thoubal river
Dimapur, March 14
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization, the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, the Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur and the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur jointly celebrated the International Rivers Day at Thoubal river (Yangwuikong river) at Riha village along Mapithel Range in Ukhrul district of Manipur with a public consultation followed by a mass protest rally today.The celebration, organised to observe the importance of the rivers in sustaining life and health of the mother earth, was attended by communities affected by the ongoing construction of the Mapithel Dam of the Thoubal Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project and environmental activists, Aram Pamei, co-chairperson of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development and Joseph Hmar, secretary of Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) and representatives of Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization.
Aram Pamei explained the significance rivers in sustaining life and expressed concern over the increased introduction of large hydropower projects such as Mapithel Dam and 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam and several other dams in Manipur. She elaborated on how present day generation inherited our rivers, forest and land from our forefathers and not from the government, and what responsibility the present day generation has to safeguard and protect the resources from its exploitation by the government and profit mongering corporations.
Joseph Hmar expressed his reservation over the increasing corporatisation and privatisation of land, river and other natural resources, particularly damming of rivers of Manipur and across the India’s North East region.
Damming industries has become a very profitable business whose benefits have been confined to the few corporate at the cost of the lives of indigenous people, he said while stressing the need to take free prior and informed consent, to conduct social and environment impact assessment and to recognize communities’ rights over land, forest and waters. These are blatantly violated in pursuing such mega dam development in the region, he added.
Thanmi Kashung of Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization expressed his reservation towards welfare policies and projects that don’t benefit the common mass for which the projects were taken up.
Rajesh Ningthoukhongjam, secretary general of Lifewatch, said any development initiatives that affect people and environment should be subjected to thorough review.
The participants of the International River Day celebration adopted the following resolutions:
1) The Thoubal River (Yangwui Kong) is the life, source of history, culture, livelihood and identify of communities along the River and to for the environment.
2) We will protect the Thoubal River, preserve it and to ensure its Free Flow.
3) We reaffirm our call to “LET THE THOUBAL RIVER (YANGWUI KONG) FLOW FREE”
4) The ongoing Mapithel dam construction on Yangwuikong River/ Thoubal River is giving a widespread devastation on people and environment, so the Mapithel Dam should be reviewed at any cost to respect the wishes, aspiration and demands of all affected communities.
5) To protect our future, we will defend our land and river at all cost.